Do you compare yourself to others?
Do you compare yourself with their accomplishments, career, wealth, looks, luck, physique, etc?
Do you end up feeling inadequate, underperforming, mediocre, or even like a loser?
The most common advice is to: Stop comparing yourself to others.
As you probably know by now, it’s easier said than done. In fact, it’s probably not even possible to not compare yourself at all, with anybody, in any situation, about anything.
So, this advice is pretty much useless.
Instead, there is a much better alternative.
In this article, I’ll help you change how you think and feel about comparing yourself to others and how to do it, so it actually helps you rather than make you miserable.
Intrigued? Keep reading.
Understand why we compare ourselves to others.
We are social animals, evolved and adapted to live in groups, and so we compare ourselves to others because we want to be accepted, liked, and valued by others. Our society and culture value certain qualities. When we compare ourselves, we assess how we “rank” against others in what we believe is important and valuable to them or to us.
Inherently, we don’t want to be or do worse than others.
This is an evolutionary drive that has been guiding the behaviour of our ancestors for millions of years, and it’s no wonder it’s very hard to suppress (completely).
So rather than going against that, it’s much better to use it for our benefit, a bit like aikido (martial art based on harnessing the opponent’s power).
Read on to see how you can do this.
How comparison is making you feel miserable
Comparison is a losing game because you can never win.
No matter how good, successful, wealthy, fast, slim, healthy, accomplished, beautiful, popular, famous, or fabulous you are, there will always be someone who is better at something.
Comparison is the game of the ego. The problem with the ego is that it’s never satisfied. It never gets enough. So while you may conquer some specific field, skill or area, you won’t be the best at the other areas. This is where the ego will go “yeah but, what about the other thing? The other person has XYZ, and you don’t.”
Right there (probably shortly after you’ve achieved what you believed will make you eternally happy), you feel miserable and inadequate again.
What makes you miserable, though, is playing the “ranking game”.
“They” are better, therefore, I am less (valuable), or I am not enough.
Comparison mistake: IT is not ALL.
The biggest and most hurtful mistake of comparison is that we often take that one area we are comparing ourselves to others and make it THE THING that determines how valuable we are as a person.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve coached ambitious (not only) leaders climbing through the ranks of the success ladder, constantly feeling inadequate because there was someone above them having more power, status, awards, attention, say, pay, respect, accolades, you name it.
“When I reach that level, I’ll feel happy, successful and accomplished.”
Then they did. And it felt great for a while.
But then, there was someone better, and down the slippery ego slide, they go again.
The point I needed to remind them about is: They are not just Directors, CEOs, or business owners.
They are also parents, partners, friends, and members of society valuable in many different ways. Very often, much more important than the area of comparison.
Comparison Tip 1: Remember Who You Are
Next time you compare yourself and find out you’re not coming out of it as well as you’d love, before you get all down on yourself, remember who you are. Remember that:
- you have much more to offer
- you play more roles in life than this one
- other value you for many other qualities you have and the value you bring into their lives.
Most of which is probably much more important than the point of comparison.
When you realise this, you’ll feel a lot of weight and pressure lifted.
Comparison Tip 2: Comparison is good if you do it right.
Since comparing yourself is impossible to suppress completely, why not use it to your advantage rather than just let it make you feel miserable?
Let me show you how comparison can become your superpower.
IF you’re comparing yourself to others, and you don’t feel great about how you’re coming out of the comparison, then it is probably a sign that this is what you want. Correct?
IF not, then why would you feel inferior if it’s not even something you want?
BUT, IF this is something you want yourself (to have, be, or achieve), then isn’t this person an incredibly valuable resource you can study and learn from about how something like this can be achieved?
Rather than feeling inferior, be grateful for the fact that:
- Someone has done it before you = it is possible.
- Someone has done it before you = they have found a way to do it.
- Someone has done it before you = you can study them to get the same results yourself much faster.
It is a shortcut! (And this is a word I don’t use lightly).
Rather than feeling bad that someone else is better than you, feel grateful for having this shortcut that is showing you how you can get the same results.
Be curious and eager to learn.
Then all you need to do is to put the work in.
Comparison Tip 3: Change the way you look at the comparison.
Yet again, I have to quote my favourite saying:
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Very often, we come out of the comparisons inferior because we’re comparing ourselves unfairly, especially the backstory of the compared areas.
This is where becoming more aware of how we compare ourselves and changing the way we’re looking at it can make a world of difference.
Let me give you a few examples.
In my 20s, I used to go out clubbing on my own a lot. Most of the time, people go out to clubs in groups or at least in pairs. My friends at the time were not into it, and I refused to be sitting at home watching TV. So I went on my own.
It would be easy to compare myself to others who were there with their social circle and feel like a loser because I was there on my own.
However, I changed the way I was looking at it.
Rather than feeling like a loser because I was there alone, I looked for the positives about it. And guess what? I found them.
- I was proud of being independent enough to go out on my own.
- I was excited about who I would meet because I’d be forced to speak to new people.
- I felt proud that I wasn’t a wuss to shy away and had the confidence to go out and speak with someone new.
Same situation, different perspective.
And you can do the same.
Often, we keep knocking ourselves down, doubting and depreciating various things about ourselves just out of habit. Simply because we’re not used to lifting ourselves up.
If that’s you, then you know what to practice.
Comparing yourself to others is inevitable.
But it doesn’t have to make you feel bad and negative.
In fact, as you just learned, it can be your superpower and growth accelerator.
I hope this has been helpful. 😉